I have experienced a good amount of emotional trauma. Trauma can have the side effect of leaving residue on your soul, spirit and mind. Moreover, the residue can create wounds that become infected with all types of negative emotions–particularly anger.

When humans experience illness, the body must find a way to rid itself of the culprit. Antibodies ward off infections that make us sick. It is the same for emotional trauma. We must heal ourselves from the impact of the event and subsequent virus of memories and thoughts that infect our emotional wellbeing. One way humans heal is through seeking a safe space in people that we hold dear to our hearts. This safe space serves as an antiviral that aids in helping one to medicate the emotional illness.

However, sometimes the very people in which you seek care from only add to the trauma and residue. Instead of being an antiviral, the safe space you desire actually ends up compounding the infection by adding another layer of hurt.

This has been my experience. I often turned to friends for help when I felt emotionally crippled. I often felt met with obligatory cliches and engagement that was part of the friendship contract. For years, I secretly harbored anger and resentment because I felt I did not get what I needed from them. The anger and resentment only added bricks to the trauma I already possessed. I felt heavy and exhausted. It also added to my already chronic trust issues of people in general. I had a polyps of un-forgiveness tucked away in my heart. I wanted to get well, but I was only getting sicker.

Through this evolutionary process, I’ve reflected on past interactions with friends. When I stopped to really think about what I knew about their life experience, I realized I was expecting my friends to give me a space that they did not have. One thing life has taught me is that your understanding of something is directly correlated with one’s connection and empathy to that thing. The catalyst between understanding and connectedness is experience. Humans disconnect and often dismiss what is foreign to them. If a person had not experienced something, rather directly or vicariously, they cannot connect to another person who has had that experience. It is virtually impossible for them to serve as a healing agent in the way it is effective for the person who is walking through a particular experience.

The trauma I experienced the majority of my circle simply have never seen. It was foreign. I could not expect someone who has been provided for and protected emotionally to be able to give me what I needed to heal. I could not expect them to operate outside of the cliches and obligatory triage that one practices when another friend is in need. My friends had normal childhoods (for the most part). I could not expect for a person with little to no experience with trauma connect to me on a level that I needed them to. I realized that they gave me what they could. For me to expect more was immaturity on my part.

This realization helps me release residual anger related to the disconnectedness I felt. This new found compassion ushers in the forgiveness that is necessary to continue my healing journey.

If you are harboring any type of negative feelings toward friends and family because you feel they did not provide for you what you desired and needed, I challenge you to step outside of your pain and look at different possibilities of why the interactions were more of a placebo than medicinal. It just well may be a situation to where they could not provide what you needed because they did not have it to give. Have compassion. That compassion will free you.

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